Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, says that ANC ministers and their deputies select expensive vehicles because they are required to travel far distances, in far flung rural and urban areas of the country.
The minister was responding directly to an article by Wheels24, which stated that government spent R42 million on luxury vehicles for ministers and their deputies between 2014 and 2017, including Audis, BMW SUVs, and a Porsche.
Muthambi described the purchase of these vehicles ‘as tools of the trade’.
“It needs emphasising that no illegality or crime is committed in government purchasing vehicles for ministers and their deputies.”
“The ANC is the party of liberation and continues to receive accolades for its efforts in ameliorating the material condition of the poor majority who are in the black and African,” the minister said.
The GCIS followed up Muthambi’s comments with a statement of its own, “to put the expenditure on road transport into perspective”.
“The purchase of these vehicles does not constitute fruitless and wasteful expenditure. If this was the case, such procurement would have been flagged by the Auditor-General during departmental audits.”
Acting GCIS director-general, Donald Liphoko, said: “Government has stated repeatedly that motor vehicles are amongst the tools that enable Ministers to efficiently and effectively execute their duties”.
The DG also pointed out that a portion of the vehicles highlighted by the Democratic Alliance were at the end of their life cycle and would have been replaced in the period 2014 to 2017 resulting in additional costs.
Liphoko further explained that in the last six months ministers and deputy ministers have undertaken 808 public participation events which saw them visiting all the nine provinces of South Africa.
“This critical outreach to the country’s rural population which was last measured at 19.3 million in 2015, according to the World Bank, is essential in ensuring inclusivity, social cohesion and oversight of government work intended to uplift all our citizens.”
In each documented instance, government-purchased vehicles are procured within the prescripts by the National Treasury and that the rules concerning vehicle fleet replacement are also clearly stipulated in the Ministerial Handbook.
Liphoko said that departments may purchase new vehicles only when the currently provided official vehicle for that office has reached 120,000 km or 5 years, whichever comes first.
“The Ministerial Handbook clearly states in Chapter 5 No 1.2.1: Members at national level may be provided with one vehicle for use in Cape Town and one vehicle for use in Pretoria.
“The total purchase price of the vehicle may not exceed 70% of the inclusive annual remuneration package of a Minister as may be amended from time to time on recommendation of the Commission for the Remuneration of Political Members,” he said quoting the handbook.
The Tshwane ANC Youth League recently justified the purchase of luxury vehicles by saying that it contributed to a city’s revenue and created jobs.
As part of austerity measures, as recommend by finance finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, the DA has put a stop to all purchases or leases of luxury cars wherever it governs.